Journey: Vladivostok to Moscow
Mode of transportation: Trans-Siberian Railroad, mostly.
Length: Flexible, minimum of 3 weeks, maximum of 2 months.
Individual: 20-something recent college grad looking to discover the meaning of life
It is the greatest rail journey on the planet. Stretching almost 6,000 miles from the cultural St. Petersburg to the maritime Vladivostok, the very name of this engineering marvel evokes images of exotic, adventurous travel. The rail covers five time zones and over 5000 miles of the immense Russian Federation. It takes 7 full days and nights to complete without any stopovers, and it is this monumental journey that I want to tackle in the coming months.
The ride is bound to be an experience in itself, but it is the stopovers that are likely to make this trip particularly fascinating for me. Ditching the rail in favor of a picturesque little town or in order to meet tantalizing town natives is what turns travel into an eye-opening experience and the primary focus of my trip. Straying from the guidebook allows one to see things through a different set of lens; one's perceptions and perspectives evolve.
Along the way, I desire to stay a few days at least in Ekatarinenbourg, Novosibirsk, Irkutsk, lake Baikal, Ulan Ude, Ulan Bataar. Each of these destinations is so full of history, so rich in local customs and culture that observing them from a train window or during a short train break is simply insufficient. That said, I am just as likely to stop at an unknown little villages just to absorb the vibe, get a feel for the atmosphere and for the place. Most of all, I want to talk to people, to stay with them when possible, to listen to their life stories, to observe their daily routines, and most of all *to ask questions*. I want to learn the language, taste the food, and enjoy the local fun-spots. In my experience, as long as one is approachable, friendly, and nonjudgmental, most locals (and people in general) are more than willing to talk, to help, to open up, even if they are a little wary and apprehensible at first.
This is why I'm going. I want to absorb these stories. I want to learn and to show how others live. I want to communicate their tales to the rest of the world.
Ideally, this would be a collaborative trip. Each day, I would reflect on the day's events and post my story on a web page, trying to generate a discussion. Should I stay longer in a given town? Should I further explore a little nook or cranny? Should I try to talk to the unfriendly local military man who shoved his way through me on his way to the train the other day? The website would serve as a link between Internet visitors and the people I meet.
The trip would culminate in Moscow and finally in St. Petersburg.
I would travel light, armed primarily with my Olympus e-10 digital camera, plus lenses, and a laptop (logistics to be worked out)
Finally, the trip holds a special meaning to me, as my grand-grand-grand father was one of the thousands who did backbreaking manual labor to construct this railroad around the turn of the century. Link.net contest would help me discover a world that I've never seen or experienced. That is the reason why I would like to be selected.
Thank you for your consideration,
Web experience: Years ago, I designed a few pages; I even had an online portfolio. But the web was always a hobby for me, an outlet for my ideas. Those pages are gone now. Currently, I have a personal web page, www.witold.org, but it is very outdated and is little more than an Internet nameplate. I keep it to explore different technologies. My focus nowadays is on database backed websites and services and most of the things I do on my little share of server space is not visible to the public. (php + mysql)